Missouri’s governor says the special session that begins Monday at the Statehouse in Jefferson City is about hundreds of jobs in southeast Missouri.

Governor Eric Greitens speaks to Missourinet in his Jefferson City office on May 19, 2017 about the special session (Brian Hauswirth photo}

Governor Eric Greitens (R) has called a special session on the Noranda/steel mill issue. The special session begins Monday afternoon at 4:00.

Greitens tells Missourinet that nine of the ten poorest counties in the state are in southeast Missouri.

“And people are sick of having to drive to Kentucky, having to drive to Tennessee, having to drive to Arkansas,” Greitens says. “Watching their friends have to get in trucks and go across the border to find a quality job. And we promised during the (gubernatorial) campaign we were going to fight for them.”

Supporters say State Rep. Don Rone’s (R-Portageville) bill would help restore about 400 jobs at the former Noranda site, and would create 200 jobs at a new Bootheel steel mill.

Hundreds of people attended rallies Saturday across southeast Missouri to support the Noranda/steel mill issue. Greitens led rallies Saturday in New Madrid, Poplar Bluff, Dexter and Sikeston.

Greitens also attended church services on Sunday morning in the Bootheel.

State Sen. Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) says he won’t filibuster “if the bill does not gut the Public Service Commission.” Schaaf tells Missourinet the bill has two parts: one that creates jobs in the Bootheel and “one that guts the PSC for the benefit of Ameren and the utilities.”

Schaaf says the governor “implies the two parts are one, but this is not true.”

“If it were just about jobs, he (Greitens) would directly answer questions about the Ameren part. Even his (special session) call had the issues as two separate parts,” Schaaf says.

Schaaf added that “The more he (Greitens) refuses to talk about the two parts as separate, the more his words have the appearance of impropriety and generate suspicion that he won’t separate the parts because he is beholden to Ameren and the other electric utilities.”

Governor Greitens sat down with Missourinet Friday morning in his Capitol office for a 16-minute interview about the special session. (you can click on the link to hear the full interview). Greitens disagrees with Senator Schaaf’s position that the special session Noranda/steel mill issue contains language that “guts” the Missouri Public Service Commission.

Greitens says the issue is straightforward.

“What this bill (the Rone bill) allows the Public Service Commission to do is to set an affordable rate so that we can bring a steel mill to southeast Missouri,” says Greitens. “And it also provides us the opportunity in the future with the old Noranda plant for us to possibly open an aluminum smelter.”

Greitens notes the Missouri House approved Rone’s amendment in a bipartisan 148-2 vote. That happened on May 11, about 24 hours before the Legislature adjourned.

State Sen. Doug Libla (R-Poplar Bluff) issued a statement late last week, saying that he worries about unnecessary rate increases for businesses and families. Libla emphasizes that if Rone’s amendment had not included what he calls a “sweeping deterioration” of PSC scrutiny and only Noranda smelter language, he would have supported it.

Greitens told Missourinet Friday he disagrees with the concerns raised by Libla and Schaaf, calling them “career politicians” standing in the way of jobs.

Greitens says his job is to get results for Missourians.